Walking through our vestibule you‘d swear the Wicked Witch of the West met her dismembering doom via a fallen couch. Grandma's artificial leg leaned against the living room wall wearing its black shoe, stocking, and rubber garter. Grandma's “good” leg lay flat on the floor, sticking out from behind the couch. Her cigarette-singed: "Who came in?" was a relief.
“It's me, Grandma.” The Easter palm I held waved as I swiveled on my heel towards a painting on the wall behind me.
“Sunday school over already?”
“Yep. I got your palm. Can I put it behind Great-Aunt Eliza‘s picture?” Great-Aunt Eliza died as a child. She sat for eternity in a rocker wearing a fancy dress behind the oval frame’s bubbled glass.
“Put it on my chair. I have to burn the old one in the ashtray first.” I obeyed. Grandma cursed, behind my back, behind the upholstery. “Hand me those studs.”
I scanned the debris on the floor: pieces of material, a ballpeen hammer, scissors, carpet tacks, Grandma's pocketbook, cigarettes, nails and a clear-topped box of heavy duty gold studs. The man at the hardware store said they‘d work if Grandma tacked the material on first.
“Here they are Grandma.” I handed them in the direction of the live leg. Her hand popped out from behind the Early American furniture she resurrected, took the plastic box, and was gone.
Holidays called for sprucing up the house, but those puny studs didn't stand a chance against my brother's furniture abuse. Masked explicatives behind the couch made it clear the studs gave Grandma trouble.
“Why are you doing that today Grandma?”
Her leg shifted. "You can't expect me to sew on the Sabbath." The unfinished Easter dresses for my sister and me must’ve been on her mind. "We don‘t use needles on Sunday in respect for Christ being pierced." Grandma's point confused me when she added, "Hand me that ball peen hammer.”
The left corner of the old couch's headrest didn't flap when I leaned on it to hand her the tool. “How'dya fix the wing tip?” I inspected her handiwork.
“I reinforced it with nails and pulled the material taut over it.” She pretended not to be proud. She didn’t even curse.
“The couch looks nice, Grandma.” Uncle John, no relation, had found the material in the trash outside a warehouse. Its color clashed even worse than the original fabric. Scraps of it on the floor tripped my mind back to the dresses. “Where's Mommy?”
“In the kitchen.”
I moved fast, hoping Grandma wouldn't need something else before I was far enough away to "not" hear her.
“Mommy, where'd Grandma get the stuff for our Easter dresses?” Sweet onions scented Mom‘s long hands, even when she wasn’t mixing ground meat.
She tilted her head to fix her glasses with the back of her wrist. Sunlight from the kitchen window made her ring glimmer. I tried to remember if, lying in his coffin, Dad had worn his wedding band.
Fatigue filtered through Mom’s answer. “Grandma took apart those curtains we had upstairs.”
“They're itchy.” I couldn’t complain to Grandma. “Liz and me tried them on when Grandma pinned them up yesterday. My legs are all red.” The torturous material never fazed the tough skin on Grandma's hands and forearms as she created those deceiving delights.
Mom didn't understand how bad it was. “You only have to wear them for a little while. Grandma worked hard on them.” As a kid, I didn’t know how to plead my case further.
I dreaded the humiliation. The dresses not only itched and burned. Those sheer pink recycled curtains barely veiled our slips. Mrs. Watson would whisper the word 'fiberglass' as we sat on either side of her waiting to say our Bible verses on the church basement’s stage. Grandma pounded another stud into the furniture. I cringed.
A week later I sat on the revamped couch as Uncle John snapped a picture, finalizing my anguish. My sister was the first to bolt upstairs and strip the abusive pink night terror from her body. We flung the things into the bottom of our closet in exchange for the salvation of sweat pants and t-shirts. Back downstairs, we indulged in candy eggs and animals, renewed. The holiday endured for chocolate, love of others and maybe real dresses next year.
- I can't inhale enough oxygen when I'm not reading. Maybe some day I'll breath stories. But for now I write full-time from my home in southern New Jersey, taking in written words and exhaling them from my subconscious to juggle until they fall into a story. Always looking for kindred spirits in artistic endeavors.
November 19th 10:30am Maple Shade Municipal Building's Library 200 Stiles Ave. Maple Shade, NJ 08052
Three years after our youngest child moved out, a main beam of our house running down the middle of our living room cracked, is sag...
Two years into receiving shots at my Ear, Nose and Throat specialist’s allergy department, I was asked to wait half an hour after ge...
As a wedding gift, my best friend gave Joe and I a calendar to mark the events of our nuptial year. Inside the calendar...
Rapidly keying for eight hours alongside rough-looking city mommas, who also worked the mole shift, I didn’t envy our supervisor. S...
Simple Soup Suggestions I smiled when I saw the book cover of Amy Newmark’s "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Simply Happy." H...
Gifts from an older year of celebrations pleasantly haunt my closet. In the midst of New Year cleaning, I tossed each of the above into ...
Fifteen minutes earlier, I said a three day/two night good-bye to my children. Liberation had shone on their faces as our ol...
"Oh, for heaven's sake Miranda, just put them on. ” She was talking to herself again. “ It's not like you ne...
Tom Mindert , author of The Long Harbor Testament , will be our guest speaker. April 18th 2017 @7:30pm Barnes & Nobles 131...
- ▼ 2016 (24)
- ► 2015 (10)
- ► 2014 (14)
Dawn Byrne family writing Juliette Writers' Group Barnes & Nobles grandma nostalgia ENT humor writers writing group Philadelphia allergies allergy shots fun local writers mother polyps row house writing discussion Immunotherapy Moorestown New Jersey car childhood children city handyman's special home love siblings sinus support Chevy Nova Flonase Marie Gilbert Neighborhood South Jersey Writers' Group Wegmans adenoids alcohol allergens carpeting cigarettes critique discussion driving ear infections entertainment fifty-years-old gifts inspirational marriage memories moving neti pot physical disability pretend publishing single mother sinus infections sinus pressure widow working mother writers group writing community 1970 1988 1995 3rd grade AAUW Allstate Amy Newmark Bible verse Biff Bam Pop Buddha Burlington County Times Cancer Chevette Chevy Chicken Soup for the Soul Chris Eilenstine Christmas Christmas village Cosmos Easter Easter ham EpiPen Five star hotel Ford Taurus G.E.D. G.I.Joe GMOs Gloria Vanderbilt Grandma's house Gremlin Hasbro Hat Home renovation IRS Inn of the Dove James Carpenter Janice Wilson Juice Beauty Juliette Haynes Kensington Avenue Life with Fred and Lucy Longwood Gardens Maple Shade Margate Marlboro Medford New Jersey Mortimer Mountain Dew NASA NJ NJ Transit National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation New Home New Jersey Turnpike New Jersey shore New Year Nissan Altima No Place to Pray PVC Pennsylvania Philadelphia Flower Show R. J. Repici ReptoMin floating food sticks Roof Oasis Roosevelt Boulevard Rosenbach Museum S.E.P.T.A. Saving Solanda September Sergeant Savage Shelley Szajner South Street Space X Springer Spaniel Steampunk Sudafed TV Tacony-Palmyra Bridge Taurus Thanksgiving The Long Harbor Testament The Soulless Tom Mindert Tudor style Tycony/Palmyra Bridge Valentine's gift Ventnor Wedding Welcome Writing for Special Occasions accident action figure affair alignment damage allergist allergy aluminum cabinet anthology apartment apocalyptic appreciation architecture bacteria ballpeen hammer beach bedroom blessing blue boob tube books botany brake broken hose bureau bus candy canned goods cast iron ceiling celebrating fifty cell phone characterization cheap thrills childhood memories chores city life city neighborhood clamp cleaning colon cancer colonial style colonoscopy color coding computer processing conservatory cooperation corner store crap creative minds crushed frame crystal curdle data entry date dating death decorating depression design designed digging disabled vehicle discussions do-it-yourself doctor dog dry eyes dust emotional balance empowerment evolution excavation experiment eyes issues family dinner father faulty construction fedora fetish fiberglass fiction filter fine motor first time driver fish tank fix-me-up fix-me-upper flat tire florist shop flowers foot massage footprints four letter word fracking frazzled frozen foods frugal future games gardening gas gas smell gas station generations genetic pool genre grandchild grandmother green happy health issue heroes holiday holidays home insurance home repair home restoration homeowner hotels house house construction injector jeans kindred spirits kitchen kitchen gadgets kitchen tools late for work lawn leaky roof lemon life lesson lights limousine love nest lower endoscopy main beam marble fun marbles matches meeting mental health mile marker milk mini tongues mommy jeans motherhood nails neighborhoods new beginnings new novel newly weds night shift nose bleeds novel. author old furniture old house old man old school palm patient pet platform play plumbing plumbing companies police political humor political writing poor family pop culture popping floor poverty powder puff tree pregnancy psychic public phone public transit pump reading playing cards recliner refinishing relationship renovating gone awry renovations reptile respect resurrection roadside assistance salmonella science science project screen writer self-help semi-hibernation serendipity sewer. gas. utility sexy meatballs shell shore short stories simple single parent sister small township southern gothic spiritual gifts squirrel's gone stale bread story stress relief stretch jeans strong woman stuffed shells succulents super mom superstition supervisor support beam surgical center synchronicity tea tea infuser tea leaves tea party play teapot teenagers teens terra cotta think tank tip toilet tongue and groove flooring tonsils tow truck toy crane toys tradition trains transportation treasure hunting tree trends turtle upper endoscopy vacation valet parking walking wall-to-wall carpeting water water main wedding gifts wet cement whimsical fun wick trimmer women writers wood wood flooring wood floors workshop wreath writer's meeting writing craft writing habits writing process writing space writing topics yellow young parents zombies
- ▼ 2016 (24)
- ► 2015 (10)
- ► 2014 (14)